Dunking in the Dark: the Technology Behind Oreo’s Super Bowl Tweet

At the 2013 Super Bowl, a sudden blackout that darkened the football stadium for more than half an hour became a star vehicle for a package of sandwich cookies when Oreo filled the downtime with a clever tweet. Despite what the advertising copy read, the makers of Oreo weren’t dunking in the dark.

On the night of the big game, members of the Oreo team and its digital agency, 360i, were seated at 360i’s headquarters in Manhattan, watching posts pouring in from Facebook and Twitter through customized dashboards that allowed them to monitor and moderate the content and metrics of user posts and tweets for the brand.

The View from Oreo’s Dashboard

Expion created the social media dashboards that power Oreo and other brands owned by Mondelez International. “We’re the technology backbone through which the information flows,” explained Expion CEO Peter Heffring.

It’s a lot of information to process. At the Mondelez offices in New Jersey that night, it took 78 Expion dashboards streaming user Facebook posts and Tweets that rotated across three screens to monitor the conversations for several Mondelez Brands.

When Oreo’s “Whisper Fight” commercial aired in the first half of the game, the team counted 55,000 tweets within 10 minutes at the rate of 110 tweets per second.

This commercial also prompted the jump in followers on Oreo’s Instagram page from 2,000 to 22,000 fans in two minutes flat. Heffring noted that Expion’s software did not measure the Instagram activity, but he said he admired the brand’s ability to “really think through all the platforms in laying out an overall strategy.”

Despite Oreo’s careful planning, an unexpected event led to a stroke of genius — and the brand’s second highest peak in traffic for the night. Because the team members were tracking not only the popularity of their commercial, but also mentions of the Super Bowl in general, they caught that the conversation online had taken a turn.

Within minutes, 360i had assembled a new advertisement with the teaser, “Power out? No problem” and a picture bearing the slogan, “You can still dunk in the dark.” Other brands raced to the scene: Audi actually beat Oreo to Twitter by eight minutes and Tide followed with a reaction of its own, but Oreo’s combination of snappy copy and simple, but effective artwork won the day. The post generated 15,000 retweets on Twitter; on Facebook, it received 5,500 shares and 19,000 likes.

 

While the television commercial that Wieden & Kennedy created for Oreo has brought in 952 likes on Hulu AdZone and more than 1.4 million views on YouTube to date, the internet-derived ad offered an unexpected viral lift with a quick turnaround time and minimal cost.

“It was really an honor to power Oreo’s Super Bowl social media mission control from real-time data analytics to content management flow,” said Heffring. “We are thrilled to have played a part, but really all the credit goes to the Oreo brand team and 360i, whose creative juices nailed the content.”

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